Tuesday, January 27, 2009

why those homeless donation boxes were doomed to fail

over the weekend, two more of those homeless donation boxes were broken into. this sad story is made all the more shameful because it was utterly predictable... and preventable.

the entire concept behind the city's homeless donation boxes is fundamentally flawed because of the way it dehumanizes the people it's supposed to help. give money to the homeless, the boxes say, but for god's sake don't look at them or speak to them. put a buck in this box and you won't have to deal with those dirty, smelly people. the mayor doesn't even want to look at them, and you shouldn't have to, either... but give them your money!

these mixed messages only serve to confuse people. the homeless aren't worth your time or attention—not only should you not have to deal with them, but you shouldn't deal with them! don't engage panhandlers as if they were actual human beings; just put some money in this box and those annoying poor folks will leave you alone!

it's no wonder that now these donation boxes are being broken into. the mayor is on record as believing that panhandlers are scam artists, addicts and drunks who live comfortable, cushy lifestyles without ever having to work because of saps who give them handouts. and from there, it's not much of a stretch to think that if panhandlers are all thieves and con men—and the official position of the city of indianapolis is that they are—then why do they need my donation? shit, i'm poor, too! i need that money more than those assholes do! where's my crowbar?

and this is why the program could never work. it treats the people that it's supposed to help like crap. the goal is ostensibly to help the homeless, but the basic assumptions behind the program are rooted in a lack of respect for the poor and homeless.

now the mayor is promoting a government consolidation plan that would give him control over poor relief. talk about a disaster in the making.

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